Making Software a NON profit space: How can we make it work?

14 05 2009

After windows vista’s failure to impress the windows users around the world, Microsoft has now released windows 7. It is the latest of windows operating systems; more secure and with a more user friendly interface as compared to Microsoft Windows Vista.

Microsoft cannot afford two windows versions failing.

But a test by PC world shows that Windows 7 is slower while starting as compared to windows vista.

The biggest competitor of Microsoft today is open source. Open source developers are tirelessly developing more and more applications to work with the open source operating systems.

Africa is the last frontier not only in developing technologies but also in developing new business ideas. With only a few developers, the uptake of ICTs in Africa today is quite impressive. Most of the business processes are becoming automated. And other systems of operation are becoming digitized.

Computers are becoming cheaper. For example the government of Uganda has scrapped all taxed imposed on computers coming into the country to reduce on the market price of computers and computer accessories.

The software prices on the other hand remain high and unaffordable. With the introduction of Soft Ware as a Service, the software vendors are becoming stricter on software licensing.

Many of the computer users in Uganda today cannot afford a licensed windows operating system which goes for USD145 on market. More users are demanding for Windows Xp operating system or even windows vista as it is today. Software piracy remains the only option. Many windows users today are using pirated copies of the operating system and Microsoft word. Of course for antivirus software open source is helping a lot. At least the users have access to free personal antivirus solutions while others keep switching from one trial version to another.

Free and Open Source Software promoters in the country are still registering little success. The explanation of this variation is the fact that open source software interfaces are either not user friendly or “very advance” for the “ordinary users”.

But those who have started using open source software like Linux, Ubuntu and Linux Susi are finding it very interesting, secure and appealing.  However it has limitations in terms of application compatibility which is so far the biggest limitation for the Linux users today.

Things are changing so fast in the technical world. In the previous years people never had any issues about not having the source code available. Today, a source code helps advanced users to get familiar with the application and to get empowered, improve it to suite their need. However for users who are not stack in to it don’t need to worry whether the source code is available or not.

Technology is now tending towards a nonprofit space/state.

Blog while you still can!

14 05 2009

As the blogger community in Malaysia grows, the government of Malaysia has vowed to enforce more laws governing the bloggers.

Apparently a prominent Malaysian blogger is facing “sedition charges” with a lot of critique from the Malaysian Government.

“More cases maybe opened against the bloggers”, the information minister of Malaysia told BBC World Service.

Information & Telecommunication Technologies for Agriculture

5 05 2009
A woman Illustrated how to use her mobile phone to get updates of farm produce market prices.

A woman farmer Illustrates how to use her mobile phone to get updates of farm produce market prices during a face-to-face meeting.

The question as of whether “Information and Telecommunication Technologies can be used as a major tool in fighting poverty across all sectors in Africa and the rest of the world” is finding answers to itself. The different technologies, software and tools designed with varying sets of functionality where “we are our own limits” have increased on the innovativeness of people who have access to these resources!

Well this is not news really, but if its news to you then you are probably asking yourself how this is possible (Information and Telecommunication Technology for Agriculture?).

Meanwhile, in Uganda today the ICT4 Development, ICT4 Education and ICT4 women have already set off. And many new ideas have been applied in the relevant fields.

Kubere Information Centre is a nongovernmental organization in Apac district (Northern Uganda) established under the project ““Enhancing Access to Agricultural Information using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)” whose

Women farmers testing the SMS application.

Women farmers testing the SMS application.

primary target is rural women farmers in Apac District, with partner women groups in Gulu, Lira and Oyam Districts.

The project is one of Women of Uganda Network’s (WOUGNET) activities. This project is conducted with generous financial support from the Technical Centre for Agriculture (CTA) and Hivos is funding one of Women of Uganda Network’s projects under the Kubere Information Centre (KIC) to promote Agriculture in Apac District of northern Uganda.

Most of the farmers under this project were producing on a small scale but now as empowered groups, they produce on a comparatively bigger scale. Their mother language is “Luo” however a few learnt farmers can speak English.  These farmers were divided into small groups according to their area of residence. And each group was given a mobile phone to simplify communication amongst the groups and with the Kubere Information Centre.

Kubere Information Centre was put in place to monitor the activities of these women groups and also to avail them with all the necessary agricultural information. KIC also answers most of the farmer questions through a QAS (Question and Answer System). The centre makes sure that all answers to questions are provided in both English and Luo. KIC has also built a website with “local content” (with two languages; English and Luo) to enable all farmers to harness the opportunities availed by ICTs.

Through partnership with Radio Apac, KIC has also been able to prepare weekly radio scripts and aired live on radio

Women farmers listen to a radio show while Kubere Information Centre staff take their questions.

Women farmers listen to a radio show while Kubere Information Centre staff take their questions.

interactive radio shows/programs with experts in farming/agriculture enabling rural farmers in Apac, Gulu, Lira and Oyam district to share ideas with a wider community.

Other activities include face-to-face meetings with the women farmers, use of SMS to get updates on market prices and the sourcing relevant agricultural information from the internet.